Gardening / Resist the seed temptation

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Camellia sasanquas should be pruned after flowering.

Don’t try to bring seeds into Australia from overseas, the penalties are dire, warns gardening columnist CEDRIC BRYANT

ONE of the great tourist attractions to travelling Australians is visiting gardens where unfamiliar plants may be growing.

Cedric Bryant.

It is so tempting to gather a few seeds, but our quarantine laws are some of the most stringent in the world, equalled only by NZ.

Anyone who watches the “Border Force” television program will be acutely aware of the penalties of bringing in prohibited items. From the gardener’s point of view, seeds of prohibited plants are of particular concern. It is definitely not worth the risk.

When we owned our nursery, I used to order seeds from free distribution by the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK. They were sent directly to the Quarantine Service in Weston (later burnt down in the 2003 fires). The seeds were checked out, any not allowed in were destroyed and the good ones passed on to me.

Anyone thinking of bringing seeds into the country should ensure they are from a reputable seed firm in their original packaging with the common and botanical name.

Declare them without fail when going through customs where they will be checked and, if not on the prohibited list, will be given back to you.

ABC news recently reported that July was the driest (4mm of rain) and hottest with the average daytime temperature of 13C since records began.

I have mentioned previously, I have the figures for the district from 1870. So, let’s look at these claims on rainfall with the year and the rainfall in brackets for July. In 1881 (3.8mm), 1970 (2.3mm), 1979 (2.8mm), 1982 (1.6mm). All less than the 4mm we received in July.

INCIDENTALLY , they regularly quote “since records began”. I contacted the Bureau of Meteorology and was informed the oldest current official weather station in Canberra was established in 1968!

There were older ones but they only operated for a relatively short time and were closed down with no long-term figures.

With this in mind, I still recommend an excellent, good-quality rain gauge that measures at least 100mm of rain is essential for every garden.

My good-quality rain gauge is made by Nylex. Rainfall varies enormously in the ACT from Tuggeranong to Gungahlin. The drip system is still the most effective, which takes the water deep down to the roots. If you don’t use this system now’s the time to think about installing it before the coming summer.


  • Now is strawberry planting time.

    Strawberry planting time is now. Always purchase virus-free plants from garden centres rather than plants given by well-meaning friends.

  • If those fuchsia shoots look dead don’t pull them out. As the days warm, new shoots will start to appear. Then remove any obviously dead branches and trim back to three leaf joints as the buds appear.
  • As camellia sasanqua has finished flowering, now’s the time to trim it back, as almost immediately new shoots start forming for next year’s flowers.
  • Start to feed lawns now. An ideal food is certified organic Neutrog Seamungus in crumble form.
  • The spectacular Blue Mountains Daffodil Festival will be held at the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden, August 24-September 1. More at

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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

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